Suspected arsons of Halloween decorations put a scare into Northwest Side residents

Four fires have been reported in North Center since early October, all breaking out around 3 or 4 a.m. “It’s upsetting to feel like in the middle of the night, out of your control, something like this can happen,” one resident said.

SHARE Suspected arsons of Halloween decorations put a scare into Northwest Side residents
A house in the 3600 block of North Hoyne Avenue  hit by a fire believed to be arson.

A house in the 3600 block of North Hoyne Avenue hit by a fire believed to be arson.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Residents of a Northwest Side neighborhood were on edge Tuesday after a bale of hay was set afire in a Halloween display, the latest in a possible series of arsons hitting holiday decorations in the area.

“We saw the glowing from across the street on the porch,” said a woman who lives across from the house that was targeted in the North Center neighborhood early Monday.

“Crime in the city is really scary anyway, but to have someone take a holiday and ruin it,” said the woman, who would only give her name as Cheryl.

Residents of the home in the 3600 block of North Hoyne Avenue evacuated after the fire was started with the decorative hay bale on the porch, police said. The porch was blocked off by caution tape and a sign announcing an active investigation Tuesday afternoon.

Behind the tape, the siding on the home was charred, and plywood covered the front door and a window. Halloween decorations, including a skeleton wearing a witch’s hat, ceramic pumpkins and false spiderwebs, still adorned the porch.

The porch of the home in the 3600 block of North Hoyne Avenue in the North Center neighborhood iis shown on Tuesday.

The porch of the home in the 3600 block of North Hoyne Avenue in the North Center neighborhood is shown Tuesday.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Another fire in the neighborhood is being investigated as arson, police said. Half a mile away from the Hoyne residence, a man put out a fire on his front porch in the 2200 block of West Roscoe Street last week, police said.

Two other fires have been reported on a porch and in a trash can nearby, and those have been classified as damage to property in a fire or explosion, according to police. A fire in the 4000 block of North Lincoln Avenue in Lincoln Square was reported Oct. 9, and two days later the Roscoe Street fire and a fire in the 2100 block of West Agatite Avenue were reported.

All four fires took place around 3 or 4 a.m. on their respective days, police said. No injuries have been reported.

Ald. Matt Martin (47th) said in a statement that “a number hay-based Halloween decorations” have been set on fire in North Center and Lincoln Square in recent weeks.

The North Center house that was hit by a suspected arson fire early Monday.

The North Center house that was hit by a suspected arson fire early Monday.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

The residents in the neighborhood are close, and they’re talking about the fires often, said Cheryl, who lives near the house on Hoyne. She woke up early Monday to the sound of fire trucks on Hoyne and went to a window to observe.

The front of Cheryl’s home was still decorated with fake zombies and skeletons Tuesday, but she said she removed hay bales and corn stalks that could easily catch fire.

Another woman who lives in the neighborhood but declined to be named said neighbors have been unnerved, and some have taken down their Halloween decorations for fear of being targeted, less than two weeks before the holiday.

“It’s upsetting to feel like in the middle of the night, out of your control, something like this can happen,” she said.

Martin said police believe the fires may be the work of a “serial arsonist,” but police didn’t say whether there’s an indication that they are connected. The City Councl member said additional police patrols have been assigned to the area.

The Latest
Williams has elevated expectations at every turn since the Bears drafted him, but he’s got sound perspective.
Six more Democratic members of Congress called on Biden to drop out, making the total now 28.
“I think this is going to put him in the White House,” says one man who describes himself as an Independent voter. “I just have a feeling that we will see Donald Trump in the White House.”
Last year was already record-breaking for data companies, but the trends from the first half of this year have shown a major jump in victims.
Eberflus cited the 2023 quarterback class’ preseason reps as the baseline for that decision.